Cornyn defends Haspel: Democrats already 'smeared' one nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril Trump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Texas) on Monday urged the Senate to confirm acting CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead the agency after Democrats "unfairly smeared" another of President TrumpDonald John Trump20 weeks out from midterms, Dems and GOP brace for surprises Sessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Kim Jong Un to visit Beijing this week MORE's nominees. 

“We've seen one Trump nominee get unfairly smeared by half-truths, innuendo and hearsay. We can't let that happen again. Ms. Haspel didn't ask for this fight," Cornyn said from the Senate floor. 

Cornyn was referring to Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, Trump's failed pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson withdrew his nomination amid allegations, which he denied, that he created a hostile work environment, mishandled prescription drugs and drank on the job. 

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Though Republican senators also questioned if Jackson was qualified, much of the GOP ire has been directed at Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterManchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Trump signs VA reform bill without Democratic co-author The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Primary results give both parties hopes for November MORE (Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee who released a list of the allegations. 
 
"I still have a hard time accepting the treatment that Dr. Jackson received before he was even allowed to defend himself," Cornyn added, saying "reckless" attacks could discourage individuals from working for the government. 
 
Cornyn's comment comes as Haspel is scheduled to publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday as part of her nomination. She's also holding a blitz of one-on-one meetings with senators this week ahead of the committee hearing. 
 
She faces a rocky road to confirmation amid scrutiny about her role overseeing a CIA "black site" and the destruction of videotapes that documented the waterboarding of an al Qaeda suspect. 
 
With Republicans holding a slim 51-seat majority, and GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (Ky.) opposed to her nomination, she'll need to win over at least one Democratic senator to be confirmed. 
 
The Washington Post reported that Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination late last week and that the White House wasn't assured until Saturday that she would go through with it. 
 
Cornyn added on Monday that he was glad Haspel stuck with her nomination and didn't fold to "intimidation tactics"